Middle East

Algeria's Brahimi agrees to be Syria mediator-sources

Diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi speaks with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (not pictured) during a joint news conference in Khartoum in this May 27, 2012 file photo. (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Files)

UNITED NATIONS: Veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi has agreed to replace Kofi Annan as the international mediator on Syria, but with an altered mandate, U.N. sources said on Thursday, as the 17-month-old conflict slips deeper into full-scale civil war.

Annan is stepping down at the end of August after six months in the job because he said his Syria peace plan was hampered by a divided and deadlocked U.N. Security Council.

Diplomats told Reuters that Brahimi, who had been undecided for days about whether to accept the offer of the post from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, did not want to be seen as a mere replacement of Annan but wanted an reconfigured title and mandate.

"He is in," a well-placed source told Reuters on condition of anonymity, adding that Ban "has accepted that he would change the title." A Security Council diplomat confirmed the remarks.

U.N. officials said it was not clear when an official announcement would be made. Annan's title was joint special envoy for the United Nations and Arab League.

It remains unclear what Brahimi's formal link with the Arab League, if any, will be, diplomats said. They said Brahimi would be based in New York, unlike Annan, who is based in Geneva.

Syria had only accepted Annan as a U.N. representative of the United Nations, not the Arab League, which suspended Syria's membership due to the escalating violence between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebels determined to oust him.

Brahimi, a veteran U.N. troubleshooter, has demanded "strong support" from the Security Council for efforts to secure a negotiated peace, envoys said.

A source familiar with the situation said that if Brahimi took the job as the new U.N.-Arab League mediator, he would not continue with Annan's "failed approach" to the conflict but would seek a fresh strategy.

 

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